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AI's impact on the movie industry

The film industry is grappling with concerns about the future in light of the rapid advancements of AI technology. When questioned about these potential effects, ChatGPT emphasizes how AI can assist humans, making tasks like scriptwriting, special effects, and audience analysis faster and more effective. It highlights that AI is a tool without any sinister plans to take over the world.

Conversely, the perspectives of human interviewees paint a somewhat gloomier picture of the future. Their biggest fear is that their creative work will soon be replaced and go unrecognized. The ability to synthesize voices and digitally alter faces through visual effects is already a reality. In fact, this technology was utilized to de-age Harrison Ford in the latest Indiana Jones movie, and AI has replicated James Earl Jones' iconic Darth Vader voice for the upcoming Star Wars series.

Do you know how to rest?

Our society has taught people to always work hard. People are learning how to be more productive, but they also have the idea that they should always be busy. These people think "busy" and "productive" are the same thing. When these people finally rest, they feel bad. They think they are lazy. They might even work until they break down from tiredness.

American psychotherapist Sarah McLaughlin says 70% of visits to the doctor are because of stress-related issues. She suggests we start taking care of ourselves as much as we try to complete tasks. She says that we need to think more realistically about ourselves, “If this task does not get done today, it does not mean I have failed. It just means that I will get to it tomorrow.” Here are some pieces of advice from two psychotherapists, McLaughlin and Pantha Saidipour, on how to forget about work before resting:

Women called cows home

For centuries, women in Sweden called their cows home with a sound called kulning. Now, kulning has been embraced by many, including universities as a form of art. But from medieval times until the mid-20th century, the sound could be heard every summer, ringing across the mountains. Reaching up to 125 decibels, kulning can be heard over 5 km (1 mi) away. Since cattle tend to wander off, they needed to be able to hear the herdswomen calling them.

It was traditionally women who went up the mountains with the herd in the summer. They each lived in a small settlement, tending the animals. They milked the cows, made cheese and spent hours doing all the rest, like cooking, knitting, mending, making brooms, etc. It was hard work, but the women also had a lot of freedom without men around. They could do whatever they wanted up there.

Cherry blossom season

Cherry blossom season is known for attracting tourists to any city that has these ornamental cherry trees. More than 1.5 million people visit Washington, D.C each year for its National Cherry Blossom Festival, and Japan also experiences an influx of millions of tourists when the trees begin to bloom in March.

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Leading across cultures

In the work environment, unexpected misunderstandings often arise as a result of cultural differences in leadership styles. Americans, for example, see themselves as egalitarian and think of the Japanese as hierarchical. But American leadership seems to be unclear. This is mainly because American bosses are outwardly egalitarian—relating with subordinates on a first name basis and encouraging them to participate in meetings—they can be extremely top-down in the way they make decisions.

It's very common for people of different cultures to struggle with mutual incomprehension. The main reason for this is managers' failure to differentiate between two important aspects of leadership culture.

The surprising origins of sushi

According to Executive Sushi Chef Kazunari Araki, sushi is not originally Japanese.

He says the combination of rice and fish began in the 3rd century along the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. It was cleaned, gutted and finally covered in a salt and rice mixture for several months in order to preserve it. When the fish was ready for consumption, the rice would be thrown away as it would have become too salty to eat. 

By the 12th century, this process had spread to China, and subsequently Japan, where it was called narezushi. According to Araki, things changed in the 16th century, vinegar replaced salt, which was key to the development of sushi. This also led to the name sushi—which translates to “vinegared rice”.

A walk in the park

Nature provides a place of inspiration, reflection and healing. Studies show that nature has the ability to affect the mind, body, and spirit positively.

The health benefits for kids are astounding: outdoor activities improve distance vision, increase physical fitness, reduce attention deficits and hyperactivity, and raise test scores.

Shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing is the act of walking and spending time in forests. It is a well known form of preventive health care in Japan. In Scandinavian countries, the essence of spending time outdoors is summed up in the word friluftsliv (free-loofts-liv), translating to “open air life.” These views show that life can be improved by spending time in forests.

Since most people now live in urban areas, green spaces are becoming essential to our health and well-being. Just taking a 30-minute walk along a path lined with trees is physically and psychologically beneficial.

Using DNA to track supply chain

Consumers are becoming more interested in sustainability and want to know for sure where products come from. One way to do this is to use DNA. For example, a supplier in the US grows organic cotton. The cotton is then sprayed with a unique DNA combination. This makes it easy to find out if a final product is made from that cotton. No one can substitute cheaper, non-organic cotton anywhere in the supply chain.

Another concern is labor practices. Consumers want to be sure the workers who produce the goods are treated well. The US has established new rules requiring companies to prove that imported goods were not made with forced labor. If they can't, then the goods are seized at the border. From January to March in 2023, border officials seized almost $1 billion worth of shipments.

Son Doong—the world's largest cave

Son Doong ("Mountain river") cave in Vietnam is the largest cave in the world. It was discovered first in 1991 by a local farmer, then in 2009 British explorers relocated it with the farmer's help. About 9km (5.5mi) long, with a rushing river and caverns that could hold an entire New York City block with 40-floor skyscrapers, it's more than twice the size of the largest previously known cave, Deer Cave in Malaysia. Just imagine—a Boeing 747 jet plane could fly through some areas without the wingtips touching either side!

Even more incredible is the rainforest that has grown beneath a place where the limestone ceiling collapsed. Vegetation, insects, birds, and other animals (including tigers!) all live in this miniature forest. Elsewhere, there are "cave pearls" the size of baseballs, stalagmites 70m (230ft) high, and even a sandy beach.

Visuals: World population increase

The world population has increased for most years over the past 120 centuries. Some notable exceptions were the Mongolian invasions, which reduced the world population by as much as 11 percent in the 13th century, and the Great Plague in the following century, which reduced it from 475 million to about 350 million.

During the early 18th century, advances in science and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution allowed the world population to skyrocket, as child mortality rates plummeted and life expectancy at birth increased gradually.

Have a look at the chart below and discuss what you see with your teacher.